This year marks the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Unearthed from the caves of Qumran in the mid-20th century, the scrolls have offered scholars invaluable insight into the writing of the scriptures and Jewish life in the Second Temple Era. Now, thanks to the age of digital media, we can all view the Dead Sea Scrolls from just about anywhere.
A website dedicated to digitized images of the scrolls is run by The Israel Museum. The site features high-resolution images of five of the most intact scrolls to have survived the last two millennia. These include The Great Isaiah Scroll, the War Scroll, the Temple Scroll, the Community Rule scroll, and the Commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll.
Titled “The Digital Dead Sea Scrolls,” this virtual exhibition offers more than just a viewing. The Israel Museum’s experts explain the history behind each scroll and summarize their content.
In addition, the curators provide a breakdown of each scroll, which includes the basic concepts of the biblical texts and recommendations on how to approach reading them. Those who cannot read Hebrew will find accurate translations in a line-by-line format provided by Google.
While the scrolls are enough to attract interested visitors, the Israel Museum gives the viewer a chance to delve even deeper into history with artifacts of the Second Temple Era. In a supplementary exhibition, titled “Visualizing Isaiah,” the site features more high-res images of various archaeological finds that relate to the scriptures.
Beside each artifact is a verse from the Great Isaiah Scroll, 66 chapters of which are preserved in the museum. The items range from early works of art, statuary, stone inscriptions, and remnants of building facades to household objects that bear signs of daily use.
The site is designed with convenience of access in mind, with easy to navigate links and succinct explanations that don’t overwhelm the reader. There’s so much content that a full perusal could keep a visitor busy for days. Not a bad way to spend a “staycation” in the upcoming summer months.
Visit the Israel Museum’s Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition today and begin your tour.